Celebrity Equinox President's Cruise Details

August 27th, 2017

This cruise departed Miami August 27th, 2017 and returned to port on September 4th, Labor Day.

One Day in Miami

We flew in one day before and stayed in Miami prior to the cruise

Concierge Class Room

This cruise we booked a concierge class room on the 10th deck, cabin 1172

GO BEST

We had the GO BEST deal which means we had the premium drink package, prepaid gratuities, onboard credit, and unlimited internet

Specialty Dining

We purchased the specialty dining package for all 8 nights

Heading home on the 4th

We headed home on the same day the cruise ended, labor day. However, we had a late 6:45pm flight out of FLL

Equinox August 27th, 2017 President's Cruise

Pre-Cruise

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We flew out this morning on WN2338 (Southwest). We had a 6:45am flight. While I hate getting up at 4am to catch a flight it's worth it. We left our home at 4:45 and we're through security (thank you TSA precheck) by 5:20. The bars were open! But I waited until the flight for our first drink.

We always fly Southwest domestically and always purchase early bird check in. This time we received A23/24. Plus there was no business select and only a couple pre boards so we had o problem grabbing exit row seats. That's the best thing about SWA. If you're like As you'll likely grab front row or exit

The flight left exactly on time. Flight crew was attentive and friendly. Two screw drivers each in lieu of coffee and we were feeling well. Flight time from MDW to FLL is listed around 2hr and 50m but it's always quicker with a good tail wind. 2hr and 25 was the actual flight quite. Taxi time took only a few minutes and we were airborne. The weather was perfect to fly out of Chicago today.

We landed ahead of schedule with no issues. Only minor turbulence. 

Pre-cruise Hotel JW Marriott Marquis

JW Marriott Marquis in Miami, FL

So we just arrived at our hotel in Miami, JW Marriott Marquis. I'll try to sound like some of my favorite travel bloggers. Bear with me here! We booked this hotel through Southwest Travel to earn an extra 2000 Southwest Points. A steal at $186/night. We paid with our Chase Saphire Reserve card to earn triple points on travel. Lastly, we have Gold status with Marriott thanks to the Amex Platinum card so we received a beautiful upgrade to a nice corner room with great views that would be even better if the sun was shining! Despite the clouds the rain is at least not constant.


Overall we're very happy with this hotel for the money. Loyalty status is definitely a bonus as the high speed internet is free, you get an upgrade which with this hotel can get you a decent change, and the free breakfast is a nice option to have.

I wanted to get a photo of the lounge but it was decently crowded and didn't want to post too many faces on here. There was a good view from the lounge and we could see the aft of a S Class ship but wasn't sure if she was ours. Too far away to make out the name.
 

A night in Miami

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Good evening everyone! It is just before 11pm in Miami and we're already back in our hotel room. We're keeping it simple tonight and didn't drink too much so we can board the ship refreshed tomorrow.

Tonight we ended up eating at db Bistro Moderne which is in our hotel and had decent reviews. The food was very good. There was a "Miami Spice" menu which we've seen advertised at multiple places. Maybe this is similar to "restaurant week" which we see in Chicago?

I had the crab cake to start which was excellent. All crab, very little filling. Fantastic flavor. Edward started with the lobster ravioli which was very good, I made him give me a taste. For our entree we both had the Seafood Zarzuela. This was a very homestyle dish (mussels, clams, shrimp, saffron, toasted bread). Edward liked it, but I think the clams weren't his cup of tea. Overall it was very well prepared, filling but still light. For desert Edward had the cheese plate and I had the profiteroles which I loved. I started eating them before I could take a photo.

Tomorrow morning we plan to be up early and eat a decent breakfast at the hotel (thanks again for the gold status for Marriott which gives us free breakfast) so we can spend time drinking when we board the ship and avoid the craziness that is the buffet! Since we are staying in a concierge room we could choose to go to the concierge lunch in the MDR, but I'd rather hang out at the bars and meet people as they board the ship and get to know who is working the bars.

We plan to leave the hotel in a cab by 10:30am and should be at the port by 10:45/10:50am. We enjoy being early to board the ship.

We've arrived on board!

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Boarding

Check in was a breeze with no issues. No waiting in line and we had our cards in a matter of moments. Our check in person was by the far the quickest we've had of any cruise. It's 10:45 now. They're lining up suites and zenith and then us in concierge to board.

We've arrived!

We are on board! There is now a rose champagne being passed out as you board. A little sweet. Pretty though 

Favorite Bartenders are here!

Guess who is at the Sunset Bar?! Milton, aka, Santa Claus! Very happy he is here. Let it snow!! 

Our dinners!

We've already made our dinner reservations with our package. 5 nights Murano, 2 Tuscan, 1 Silk Harvest. 

Day Number Two "First Full day"

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Time to meet Lisa!

So tuesday is a Q&A with Lisa. I'm going to try and get close seats. I'll see what video I can take. Ideally I'll audio record everything and see what I can upload. I'll keep you all posted. Dinner in Murano tonight. Heading to Martini bar in about 30 minutes. Hopefully we will have some live music in the atrium.

FYI I've run into several bartenders I know from previous cruises. It's amazing how welcoming they always are and how incredible their memories. As much as we may complain about certain things it is always the staff that continues to put smiles on my face. 

It's the morning at the pool bar

It's 9:15am and guess where I am? Pool bar of course. Hair of the dog. 

Dinner last night was in Murano. Service and food was fantastic as always. We had 8pm reservations. Here are some photos of the good. Not pictured is the lobster bisque. I forgot to take a picture. Look down below at the photo reel for last nights pictures.

The day continues

The day is beautiful. Hopefully we can get away from the website discussion; I hope. We hit the pool bar then sunset bar with Milton. We grabbed lunch at the FREE mast bar haha. We signed up for the cigars and rum event tonight. Milton helped with that. I've got to say he is awesome. 

Cigar & Rum Tasting!

Today at 4pm we went to the cigar and rum event at Sunset Bar. The price was $35 pp which included three different rums and refills plus a cigar. The rum was very good, especially the young white rum which paired so well with the cigar. We sat at a circular table with 7 people and had wonderful conversation. One gentleman worked as a trucker hauling very hazardous materials in northern Canada and he had incredible stories. What a treat. Milton of course took care of us and made sure we didn't need or want for anything.

In total it appeared that 15/16 people signed up for the rum and cigar tasting.

Before dinner

We are back in our room now. Tonight is evening chic. We have 8:30 reservations in Tuscan and of course will start our night at the Martini bar.

Tomorrow is the Q & A at 11am with Lisa so I am looking forward to that. The show tonight is December 63 which is a throwback Frankie Valli type show. Though the times are 8:15 and 10:15. If we are out of dinner early I think we will see the shoe. Otherwise we will maybe hit the casino.

Something new I saw, which I'll photograph tomorrow, is Whisky House. It looks to be a whisky bar / room?? by the lawn that has a large selection of whisky. Not sure if this is just for purchase or an actual bar but I will check it out and report.

The weather today is fantastic. The winds are a bit strong but I think we're sailing into them so you don't feel any movement in the ship. Very calm sailing. 

After Dinner

Good evening everyone. We ate tonight in Tuscan. So did Lisa. We saw her at a table not too far away. We knew the bartender in Tuscan, Johnny. He made a point to come out to check on us several times and make sure our wait staff took great care of us.

We started with meatballs and a Bianco pizza which was excellent. I forgot to take a photo! We then both had Caesar salads and then lobster pasta and carbonara and each had a filet.

Service was prompt with the initial exception of getting wine which was slow. But once we got our first glass we were good. The filet was good quality and a true medium rare.

Days 2 and 3

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Dinner in Tuscan on "Evening Chic" night

Good evening everyone. We ate tonight in Tuscan. So did Lisa. We saw her at a table not too far away. We knew the bartender in Tuscan, Johnny. He made a point to come out to check on us several times and make sure our wait staff took great care of us.

We started with meatballs and a Bianco pizza which was excellent. I forgot to take a photo! We then both had Caesar salads and then lobster pasta and carbonara and each had a filet.

Service was prompt with the initial exception of getting wine which was slow. But once we got our first glass we were good. The filet was good quality and a true medium rare.

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A little gift

Last night after dinner we went straight to bed. We were exhausted and very full from dinner. Though I slept awful. The double espresso after dinner is likely to blame! But I'm up and at the pool bar this morning. I can nap later. 

Today is nice and warm. There was rain a little earlier but the sun is out now and we should be in Puerto Rico by 3:30. Weather should be good for the rest of the day. Definitely a big change from the gloomy weather in Miami!

When we got back to our room last night we had little presidential cruise pins which were cute. Here is a photo of them.

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Trying Gastro Pub for Lunch

We went to Gastro Pub for lunch today. We ordered the burger which was pretty good and it came with fries. The burger is $12.

I really like the build out of Gastro Pub. It was pretty dead at lunch today but I saw it was crowded yesterday in the evening. It's definitely nice to have an additional lunch option.

Day 3 night - San Juan Puerto Rico - Presiden'ts Event

So let's talk about tonight. Tonight was San Juan Puerto Rico. There was a presidents event in San Juan which was free. Here are some photos. I'll upload video later. The event consisted of live music, free drinks, small food items, deserts, and some casino games. Lisa was standing in front greeting everyone. I was able to meet her and she could not have been nicer. Our captain was also there shaking everyone's hand.

Day 3 Dinner & Drinks & Sail Away

Murano

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Sitting down at Murano

A little amuse-bouche

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Now this is a sale

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Yes, that is very delicious pork under that egg

Salmon and crab parfait

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This is my favorite starter....I lost count of how many times I ordered it

Risotto

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The mushroom risotto is very rich, but is truly is excellent. Be careful, it will fill you up!

Table side Lobster

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We both had the lobster prepared table side. It is always a wonderful treat.

Leaving San Juan

We had a nice nightcap at Sunset Bar with Milton and watched the sailway. It was a beautiful night to leave Puerto Rico. My treat was seeing a beautiful runway lit up as we pulled away.

St. Maarten is next....

The next morning we will port in St. Maarten which is one of our favorite islands and one which we always feel very comfortable visiting. Maybe we just know it so well?

St. Maarten Day 4

Good Morning Everyone! I finally had a solid nights sleep and feel wonderful this morning. Maybe it was the cognac nightcap that helped. Today is St. Maarten. We get into port at 11am and leave at 6. Weather today is pretty warm with some decent humidity. Not a cloud in the sky. We've been to this port many times. It's one of our favorites as we find it so easy to navigate but we may stay on the ship today and use the pool. 


Yes, we were the only ones in St. Maarten today which was strange! We're not used to that! We did get off the ship and walk to the beach. For those who don't know there is a very nice beach about a 15 minute walk away. You can also take a water taxi too. We had a couple drinks on board and ate lunch in Ocean View. The lunch buffet today was suppose to be American BBQ but it wasn't the case. What I had was good though. I really like the Indian food on board.


Around 12:20/12:30 we left the ship and spent 3 hours at the beach. If you go to this beach and you want some chairs walk only a little way down and look for blue umbrellas and yellow chair cushions. As for George. He was terribly nice and we got two chairs and umbrellas for $15 total and a bucket of 5 beers for $10. He offered to get us food or anything else we need. He seemed to keep good watch on the area so we felt comfortable going in the water and leaving our bag. Though we still secured it as well as we could.

The water was perfectly warm. Like bath water. As we were the only ship in port the beach was not crowded at all. 


As I'm putting this website together after I wrote my live blog, I'd like to add one comment. Little did we know at the time that the island would never look the same after hurricane Irma. We are so glad we got off the ship and enjoyed our favorite beach. I'm not sure how much of it is currently left.


Below are some photos of the wonderful day we had. Good Morning Everyone! I finally had a solid nights sleep and feel wonderful this morning. Maybe it was the cognac nightcap that helped.


Later that evening...

Cheers everyone! I'm crawling into bed but just wanted to say today was a wonderful evening. Another great dinner at Murano. I'll spare you the usual photos since I ordered some of the same but below are a few new pics of items we had.


We saw the Broadway Cabaret show tonight which are the main singers singing some of their favorite and most popular Broadway / West End songs. Very enjoyable.


We are midway in the cruise and we've met a handful of new passengers and made friends with some more staff. 


Below photos will show our desert in Murano. You are looking at an after dinner drink followed by table side crepes. 

Mid Cruise Reviewe

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So far so good...

While I am at my laptop, my phone is currently charging, I just wanted to type up a quick "mid cruise" review for you all. Once I'm back on my phone I'll post a few photos I took today. I also posted a couple quick videos on my Instagram. PaulKBlackburn is my Insta account. 


Staff 


All the staff on the ship has been fantastic. We've been very pleased with the bar service and there appears to be more bartenders on this ship than on other S-Class ships. In talking with a couple staff members, this is actually true. There are more bartenders on the Equinox than on the Reflection, even though this ship carries slightly less passengers. I've noticed 3 to 4 bartenders at the pool bar today. I've also noticed 3 bartenders at the martini bar in the evening. When one heads away for dinner it seems like another person is there to replace. Now, I'm here typically from 6 to 7:30 so this may change at different times.

Service in Ensemble lounge has been very good. We've been stopping in there for a glass of wine before dinner and we're always able to grab a seat (around 7:30 to 8:00pm) and always get a drink right away. FYI we're sitting at the bar, not at a table, but from what I can observe the cocktail servers are very attentive.

Service in Restaurants

As you may have read we've only eaten in specialty for dinner. We've been extremely happy with the service in Murano. I think this is true of most people. We ate in Tuscan once and will be back there again today. Service in Tuscan was great. It was a bit slow to start and I think this was because of 1) how crowded it was and 2) Lisa and her group were dining in there as well.

We've eaten at Mast Bar a couple times. Service has been quick. The line has not been long. Though on the last sea day this may be different! 


Mast Grill 


One of you asked if there was any shaded area to eat around Mast Grill and unfortunately there is not. It is right in the sun! You might get very lucky and grab a very tiny table off in the corner that is partially shaded. I have noticed people take food down to the loungers by the pool and eat in the shaded areas. Aqua Spa cafe is inside by the Solarium and is of course shaded which could be another good option for the person who asked. 

Shows

Last night we saw the Broadway Cabaret show which I always enjoy. I found the vocals of most on stage to be excellent and the song choices were very well varied to appeal to a broad range (no pun intended) of Broadway and West End tastes. Tonight is the show "Life" which I'm told is different from your typical show so I'm very much looking forward to it.

Cleanliness

he ship is clean as it should be. I haven't noticed any issues in the public restrooms. The bar areas have always seemed very clean as have the seating areas around the pool deck. 


Pool Towels 


Pool Towels seem to be in short supply on this ship. We had to wait for some to take off with us yesterday in St. Maarten. Today they were low or nearly out much of the time by the pool which was strange since the pool wasn't that crowded and I didn't notice many chair hogs at all. Very bizarre. Maybe they were having a cleaning issue with the towels. 

Weather

 Obviously Celebrity cannot control the weather. Though I'm sure some passengers think they can  The weather on this cruise has been great. A couple quick spots of rain randomly, but overall it has been fantastic. It's been warm but not the scorching heat I was expecting which is a nice surprise. 


OK - Stay tuned for some more photos later today. I have to keep up with my 10 photos per day! Anyone else who has questions please feel free to ask. I plan to check out the casino in a little while if it opens before 6pm, so I will report on that.

St. Thomas

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Our private ship day

If you know us you know we typically cruise for the ship first and the ports second, especially in the Caribbean as we've visited the majority of the islands. On this day we decided to stay on board and have most of the ship to ourselves. 

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Caught up with old friends

We took this time to catch up with our bartender friend Zanu from Jamaica who we've sailed with three other times. He was working the outside Ocean View Cafe bar so we didn't get to see him much. We decided to stop down and have a frozen drink with him and catch up. He's looking and doing well! 

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Spent the afternoon by the pool

We were able to snag front row seats around 11:30am by the pool. We spent a good three and half hours or so by and in the pool. The water was a perfect temperature for cooling off. Eventually around 2pm the pool did get more crowded.

Dinner in Tuscan Grill

For our fifth dinner of the cruise we were in Tuscan Grill again. We again got a nice table by the window. After dinner we finally visited World Class Bar and had a couple wonderful drinks and excellent company talking with the bartenders and fellow passengers at the bar. It was a very nice evening.


Check out the below photo gallery of our food in Tuscan and drinks after at World Class.

Day 6 Punta Cana, DR

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Time to tender!

Good afternoon everyone! Eerrr almost good evening! Today was Punta Cana! Water was beautiful. We had to tender in which was a bit adventurous. We mostly used life boats and they were rolling about. We did get some great photos though. We did not book anything here so we really had nothing to do. The port area itself was very nice and clean. There was even a free show going on with the aerobatics. They were actually really good. We then got back on. It was hotter than we thought. The waters looked beautiful so if you come here I'd recommend looking at booking an island tour or a day pass at a hotel. If we really wanted to there was a free information center and we very likely could have arranged something. The good news about this port is that even though you need to tender once you're in the port the people are very friendly, the space is clean, taxi people are dressed well and no one is pushing anything on you. At least not in the port itself. 

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Oh tendering is not the most fun for all. It was a great deal of fun going into port because we were sitting up top. Now, if you get motion sickness you won't like the tenders but since you're reading a cruise blog I assume you're OK or at least take the proper precautions to avoid motion sickness. 


Here is a view of another tender, which was exactly the same as ours, we saw pass by us on the way to port. 

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Welcome to Punta Cana

As I mentioned before the port was very clean and it was very good looking. There were several stands like this throughout the port selling mixed drinks and bottles of water. The prices were quite reasonable.